Chile is divided into 15 political regions. These Chilean regions, known as regiones, are similar to states in the United States or provinces in many countries around the world.
Each of Chile’s regions is known by both a Roman numeral and a name. However, Chileans typically refer to the regions by just the number. This can be confusing if you don’t know your geography!
For many years the pattern of the regional numbers was easy: start in Northern Chile with the first region and then as you proceed down the country, the region numbers get bigger and bigger.
However, in 2007, Chile created two new regions which break this historical number pattern.
It is also important to keep in mind that the Chilean capital, Santiago, is in the Metropolitan Region (Region Metropolitana, which doesn’t have a number.
Additionally, there is no 13th region. The Region Metropolitana essentially fills that position.
Are you confused yet?
Don’t worry, here’s the map with the regions and their respective numbers.
Map of Chilean Regions
You’ll notice that the northernmost region is now the 15th region (XV) and the 14th region is found about two thirds of the way down the country.
List of Chilean Regions by Number and Name
The capital city of each region is in parentheses. Since you may be visiting one of the larger cities, it may help orient you to the region’s location.
I Tarapacá (Iquique)
II Antofagasta (Antofagasta)
III Atacama (Copiapó)
IV Coquimbo (La Serena)
V Valparaíso (Valparaíso)
VI O’Higgins (Rancagua)
VII Maule (Talca)
VIII Biobío (Concepción)
IX Araucanía (Temuco)
X Los Lagos (Puerto Montt)
XI Aysén (Coyhaique)
XII Magallanes (Punta Arenas)
RM Metropolitana (Santiago)
XIV Los Ríos (Valdivia)
XV Arica y Parinacota (Arica)
General Regions vs. Official Names
Don’t confuse the official regional names with common, generic descriptions of regions.
For example, many refer to southern Chile as Patagonia. However, there is no official “Patagonia” region with Chile’s regional divisions.
Likewise, a popular tourist destination is the Lake District. This “district” spans multiple regions and isn’t limited to just the 10th Region (Los Lagos or “The Lakes”).
Three Ways to Call a Region
Depending on if you are reading about a region in print or hearing it verbally, be prepared to identify any Chilean region by one of three ways:
- Roman numeral (like X or III)
- ordinal number (like décima for 10th or tercera for third)
- name (like Los Lagos or Atacama)
Practice your geography and your Spanish ordinal numbers and you’ll be a master of Chilean regions in no time!
I’m going for 5 weeks in 2016. I am not sure if I should buy a cell phone there or increase my calling plan on my current US plan. Thoughts or suggestions?